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Don’t turn back on clanger

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In December 2015, the Beleben blog pointed out that the design of HS2 and its dead-end station in Manchester made the proposed railway entirely unsuited to improving Northern connectivity.

Beleben blog, Manchester Piccadilly HS2 dead end, 2015-12-01

Two and a half years later, Manchester politicians Andy Burnham and Richard Leese have discovered the Piccadilly ‘dead end’, but not the other shortcomings of HS2 and George Osborne’s “Northern powerhouse rail” (NPR). In July 2018, they launched the ‘No turning back’ campaign to get the government to pay for a ‘Tunnel Connector’ and subterranean station for NPR at Manchester Piccadilly.

According to the ‘No turning back’ campaign, this station would cost “£1.2 billion extra” and “double the output of Greater Manchester to around £132 billion by 2050″.

No turning back NPR 'pledge card'

Of course, since there is no route defined for a transpennine NPR line, there is no way Andy and Richard could have the foggiest idea of whether the extra cost of a subterranean NPR station would be £1.2 billion, £2.2 billion, or £3.3 billion. Their support for NPR shows they have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of railway investment needed in Greater Manchester and the north of England.


[The Government isn’t listening to the North | Its plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail do not meet the needs of the region, Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Leese, July 17 2018, The Times]

This summer is proving to be a hot but frustrating one for the millions of northerners who rely on our trains.

Hot on the heels of the botched new rail timetable, we learned that electrification will be further delayed until the end of the year.

When Chris Grayling failed to show at the Northern Transport Summit in Manchester, the timing could not have been worse. Or more telling. The North is simply not his priority.

It is four years since George Osborne came to Manchester and promised a Northern Powerhouse. The big promises haven’t been delivered and questions are being asked about the Government’s commitment to it.

Delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail, aligned to maximise the benefits of HS2, is the litmus test for whether this Government will live up to its promise of providing much needed investment to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. If we make the right investment choices now, the opportunity is immense.

Northern Powerhouse Rail has the potential to add £100 billion a year to economic output and create 850,000 jobs in the North. The North already has a fantastic industrial base, with huge potential for advanced manufacturing, energy and renewable investment, health innovation and digitisation. It will mean 1.3 million people will be within one hour of the four biggest Northern Cities. Today this figure is 10,000.

It will connect people to places, improve global links to Manchester Airport, driving international investment. Northern Powerhouse Rail will be the backbone of a Northern economy, driving growth and opportunity.

In Greater Manchester, Manchester Piccadilly station is the cross-roads of the North. We need it to be a transport super hub to serve the whole of the North, with an underground Northern Powerhouse Rail station as part of a new, world-class station. Providing better, faster east-west journeys for everyone in the North, unleashing inclusive growth from harnessing improved connectivity.

The Government’s preferred option is a Dead End at the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail – above ground trains turning back and reversing down a line they just rolled in on, before moving on to their next destination. A Dead End at the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail will delay journeys, limit capacity and stunt economic growth.

Last month we set the Government a challenge; prove you mean business by committing to delivering the best possible Northern Powerhouse Rail solution, confirming it is the next infrastructure priority after High-Speed 2.

The Government isn’t listening, which is why we are launching a campaign, ‘No Turning Back’, to get the best possible deal for the North.

We stand alongside our fellow northern colleagues fighting for what is so clearly right for the North.

Bradford must get a new through railway station in Bradford city centre as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Liverpool must be fully connected to new rail lines both East-West between Liverpool, Manchester and across the North of England. Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull are making strong cases to Government as well, and they must get the right level of support from Government to ensure they get Northern Powerhouse Rail right for their city regions.

The North is standing together, and its voice will be heard. We say to the Government there can be no turning back on the promises of transformational investment. No turning back on developing a Northern economic powerhouse. No turning back from the North. No turning back at Manchester.

If this Government is serious about the North, it must commit to delivering the best possible Northern Powerhouse Rail solution as soon as possible. Build it once, build it right for the North.

Written by beleben

September 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

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